Defending champion Packers take care of Mandan at state soccer tourney
JAMESTOWN, N.D.—West Fargo became accustomed to scoring early and often throughout the season. But the returning North Dakota boys soccer state champion Packers found a new level of offensive firepower at the right time.
The East Region No. 1-seeded Packers scored four goals in a 10-minute span midway through the first half on their way to an 8-1 win over West Region No. 4-seeded Mandan in the state tournament quarterfinals on Thursday, Oct. 12, at Rotary Field.
"This year, we have more pressure on us," said Telvin Vah, who finished the match with two goals and three assists. "But we have more guys to take the pressure on."
The Packers defeated Mandan 5-0 in their second match of the season in the East-West Crossover in Jamestown back in August. After losing to Fargo Davies in their last regular season match, the Packers (13-4-2) tied their season best for goals scored in a game.
To start West Fargo's scoring, Vah pushed the ball ahead to get a numbers advantage to set Lucas Simon up on a fast break. Then, 2 minutes later, Vah drew defensive attention to the side of the net, avoided defenders and passed to a wide open Simon right in front of the net for his eighth goal of the season.
"Everyone knows Telvin is one of the best players in the state," Simon said, "so it leaves me open for some success along the way."
Vah then got his own goals, the first on a breakaway on an assist from Mohamed Isse and the second on an assist by Enoch Gartei. Vah has 17 goals and nine assists this season after the win.
"The more we moved the ball, the more chances we had as a team," Vah said. "Everything started clicking right away."
Jacob Weiand scored his first goal of the season on a breakaway by luring the goalkeeper away from the net and avoiding him on his way to the first score of the match for Mandan (4-11-1). The Packers, however, responded in 32 seconds when Zachary Milbrandt passed from the corner of the field to a crowd of players in the front of the net where Sabiti Morisho slid to net a goal.
Yussuf Mohamed scored twice and Gartei added another goal in the second half to put the contest away for good.
"We earned it because we wanted it more than they did," Mohamed said. "In this game, we knew if we lost we wouldn't have a chance at (the state championship)."
Simon said the Packers communicated more effectively and moved the ball faster and more aggressively than in previous games. He hopes if the Packers continue to do so they'll continue their offensive momentum for the rest of the tournament.
"We didn't rush anything. We took our time," Simon said. "I think we just wanted it more than they did."